They’re profoundly talented, technically knowledgeable and anxious to learn. The trick is getting them to work at your company. Millennials are replacing boomers as the biggest workforce, however small businesses must comprehend this younger talent pool on the off chance that they want to entice them.
Millennials represented the biggest share of the workforce as far back as 2015, according to research firm Environics. The company, which defines this age group as those born between 1981 and 2000, said that this 15-to-34-year-old workgroup made up 37 per cent of the labour force. As boomers continue retiring, this proportion will increase. Understanding how to engage these younger employees will become increasingly important in the next few years.
One way for companies to keep millennial talent is to reassure these workers that they’re doing well. Manpower Group’s Millennials 2020 Vision survey says that over half of millennial workers in Canada would leave their current job if they felt unappreciated.
Frequent feedback and a human touch are important to this group, so building this into management structures can help to create a more conducive working environment. Mentoring programs are a great way to encourage this regular interaction and make employees feel cared for and wanted.
Provide opportunities to grow
Millennials want to learn and advance in their careers. Manpower found that three quarters of millennials cite the ability to learn new skills as a top factor when considering a new job, and a quarter of them even intend to take a break from work to gain new skills. A large proportion of these employees are willing to pay for their own training.
Employers can harness this willingness to learn by providing on-the-job training programs and rotating millennial employees between different projects to develop different skill sets. This will help slake their thirst for knowledge and increase their value to the organization. It’s also something that smaller businesses may be able to handle more adeptly, because all workers may need to handle a multitude of tasks.
Build breaks into employment
Boomers may be retiring in their mid-60s, but millennials don’t take a job-free old age for granted. Almost two thirds of them (64 per cent) expect to work past the age of 65, and 14 per cent expect to work until they die. That means they’re thinking differently about working life and planning for long-term breaks.
Eighty-three per cent of millennials in Canada expect to take significant career breaks for events such as having children, travelling or pursuing a life dream. Employers who want to build long-term relationships with millennial employees might consider supporting extended leave periods on a formal basis to avoid job-hopping. This is a tricky issue for small businesses, though, who may have immediate short-term staff requirements.
Planning for a longer career also means finding more work-life balance in the short termFlexible working is important
One benefit that small businesses may find easier to offer younger employees is flexible working. Planning for a longer career also means finding more work-life balance in the short term. Millennials will work a full week if not more (Canadian millennials work an average 42 hours per week), and perceptions about lazy millennial workers are groundless, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t value their time. If they’re going to work for longer before retirement, they’ll want to balance work and play while doing it.
A lack of work-life balance could push millennials into the gig economy, where they can gather piecemeal work from a variety of clients. Many already seem interested in this idea. Seventy-three per cent of Canadian millennials have either worked some form of gig job, do so today, or anticipate doing so in the future, according to TD Insurance. Deloitte’s 2018 global survey of millennial workers found that 39 per cent of millennials interested in joining the gig economy would do so because it enabled them to work the hours they wanted to work.
Consider offering flexible working arrangements, such as remote work and flextime to attract and retain this workforce. On that note, use technology as an enabler. After all, millennial employees grew up technology-savvy, and will appreciate the use of efficient collaboration systems to make working life easier.
Be more socially responsible
Millennials have become disillusioned with businesses, feeling that they focus on their own agendas rather than considering a larger society, according to Deloitte. Thirty-nine per cent of workers in this age group want their employers to improve society, but only 25 per cent feel that their companies are doing it. That creates a clear opportunity for businesses with socially responsible values to attract millennial talent.
This focus on values also extends to diversity. While 44 per cent of millennials on average said that business leaders are making a positive impact on the world, that rose to 54 per cent of those in organizations that had diverse senior management teams. In short, if you want to attract millennials, show that you’re thinking inclusively. This is an area where small businesses can thrive, because senior staff will find it easier to drive inclusive, socially responsible values throughout the company.
Small businesses are often disadvantaged when competing with larger players who have more money and better economies of scale, but engaging millennial workers is one area where they be able to shine. Smaller companies can be more agile in their recruitment and management practices, making it easier to create a millennial-friendly culture. When it comes to drawing from this valuable talent pool, they may just have the upper hand.